Jeff Makes The Tools

He's called the manufacturing engineer, which is a high-class way of saying he creates specific--and better--tools and systems.

Sometimes it's as simple as raising a machine a foot so that the worker avoids repetitive stress. Other times it's inventing an automatic gluing machine so that the workers don't have to mess around by hand.

Jeff always liked to tinker. He started by drafting, drawing standard machine parts, and eventually graduated to designing big hydraulic wrenches used by the U.S. Navy and nuclear power plants.

He moved to the West Coast, where his wife is from, and found marimba one--where he repairs and maintains an average of three or four machines a  month. The marimbas are still essentially hand-crafted, but he tries to make ergonomic tools to make it easier to craft them.

His biggest challenge? To decide what to do first, in a better and less costly way. There's new ideas, a better design and as he says, "There's always something in the shop."

As a Mr. Fixit, his goal is less hardware and fewer parts. "New processes mean new equipment," he says, implying that there's never a dull moment.

Jeff credits Ron Samuels, founder of marimba one, for coming up with most of the brainstorms aimed at getting a richer tone out of the instruments. But it's Jeff, always tinkering, who has to figure out the designs that will work.